Imphal, Sept. 30: New Delhi is committed to bringing peace in Nagaland, but not at the cost of Manipur, Union minister of state for commerce and industries Jairam Ramesh said here today.
“Finding a solution to Naga insurgency is important for establishing peace in the region. The Centre, however, will never neglect Manipur,” he told reporters at the end of his three-day visit to the state.
On the demand of sovereignty raised by several militant groups in the region, Ramesh said India’s integrity was non-negotiable. “What is negotiable is new political institutions and new initiative for better economic opportunities,” he added.
Ramesh said the people of the region must strive to restore peace in the Northeast and the Centre was trying to win “the heart and minds” of the people through rapid infrastructure development.
“Army isn’t the solution to the problem of insurgency. People’s involvement is a must. It is about time that people say no to violence. The law and order situation in Manipur is grim. We hope development can change the people’s mindset,” he said.
A host of ministers, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, are scheduled to visit the state this year. Singh is likely to visit Manipur in November. DoNER minister P.R. Kyndiah will visit the state on Tuesday. Rural development minister Mani Shankar Aiyer will come on a two-day visit to the state beginning Thursday. This will be followed by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s visit to attend the Manipur University’s convocation on October 18. Ramesh said these visits only highlight the state’s standing in Delhi’s priority list.
On border trade, the minister, who visited Moreh yesterday, said the border town would be made a free trade zone to liberalise trading.
He said he would propose to the Centre to set up a Northeast Infrastructure Development Corporation on the lines of the Konkan Railway Corporation for development of roads in the region. He said he would also pursue with the Union health ministry the issue of increasing seats at the Regional Institute of Medical Science and Hospital here.